Crisis in the Kremlin is a neat and original game.
It puts you in the shoes of one of the leaders of a Soviet political party - allowing you to be either a Reformist, Hardliner, or Nationalist - and you have to run the Soviet Union of 1985, all the way up to the year 2000 and beyond. You need to take care of the budgets, policies, and the crises that arise in your regime's time.
When a crisis arises, you'll pick up one of four telephones related to it: these are KGB/Military, Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Council of Ministers. At the beginning of a crisis you'll get a description of what it relates to, followed by a number of choices you can make to deal with it. Keep in mind that you must impress all factions with your decisions, because if you continuously favour one faction, the others will depose you. It's not uncommon to be overthrown by the Hardliners or forced to resign by the Reformists or Nationalists.
Every once in a while you will have to change your policies regarding your military posturing, wage controls, media freedom, trade freedom and so on. You are also in charge of allocating money to different departments; this is where the game gets confusing if you're not good with numbers. But after a couple of tries you'll get the hang of it. I once drove my military spending into the ground after the collapse of the Union, so that I could make Russia an economic giant.
You are presented with a map showing pretty much all of the Northern Hemisphere. Green nations represent the countries that are just living life as it comes, such as those in Western Europe, Canada, the United States and China. Purple represents the Communist republics, such as Poland, Ukraine, Georgia and Mongolia. As these countries break away from the communist bloc, their colors change from purple to light purple, then to yellow, light red, and finally green to show that they have left the Union. When a country is leaving, you usually get an option to declare martial law or let the country leave peacefully. Eventually, as your economy gets worse and worse, you'll get the option to disband the U.S.S.R completely. You can keep it intact, but that usually results in a worse economy later after you have disbanded it.
During the game, little videos and news articles come up at the end of all the crises you've had, showing the consequences of the choices you made. You can always click on your little VCR and review them, or look in your log and review all dispatches that you've received.
The game has little sound other than a low humming "dududududu" of the dispatch machine, or little musical MIDIs when a TV news video comes up.
All in all a good game - I give it a 4. It's kinda hard, but fun nonetheless.